Diversity & Inclusion Update #5

April 20, 2017

Simmons campus

A message from President Helen Drinan, Vice President for Communications, Diversity & Inclusion Cheryl Howard, and Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion Lisa Smith-McQueenie

This is our fifth update on our College-wide diversity & inclusion (D&I) initiatives that overlap our work to address the Ten Demands. We will provide a detailed progress report on the Ten Demands in a May communication as we mark the one-year anniversary of the May 4, 2016 ribbon cutting of the Multicultural Student Organization Office.

College-Wide Diversity & Inclusion Goals – Overview

We are pleased to say we are making commendable strides on our 2016-2017 goals. We developed our philosophy of diversity and inclusion (unanimously endorsed by our Board of Trustees); we provided D&I training for the Simmons leadership team and for many full-time faculty, staff, and students; we implemented a Bias Response Protocol to enable anyone who has experienced a bias incident to report it and to receive support, resources, and guidance, as appropriate; our Diversity & Inclusion Action Council, comprised of faculty, staff, and student members, meets twice a month to provide feedback on all initiatives before implementation; many faculty are working to substantially enrich curricula with more diverse content; and we've established diversity and inclusion as a prominent goal of our strategic plan, Strategy 2022.

Faculty Professional Development – Diversity & Inclusion

Our Center for Excellence in Teaching, in partnership with Romney & Associates, designed a one-day seminar experience for faculty to address issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the classroom. The Inclusive Excellence Seminar has been successful in beginning to reach the wide range of areas that contribute to a more inclusive learning experience in the classroom for all students.

To date, 141 faculty have participated in this daylong seminar. Our goal for this year is to provide this opportunity to 160 faculty and we are confident it will be achieved. The ninth and final seminar for this year is scheduled for June 2, 2017. Two additional seminars will be offered in the fall to accommodate new and more current full-time faculty.

Planning for the next iteration of the Inclusive Excellence Seminar (II) is underway. It will incorporate feedback from faculty and students regarding the classroom experience, inclusive instruction, and curriculum enhancement. And, it will expand upon previous learnings and continue to address topics like managing difficult conversations, equity in teaching and learning, and responsible pedagogy.

Staff Professional Development – Diversity & Inclusion

This January, we required all staff to complete four online training diversity and inclusion modules:
  1. Diversity Benefits for Higher Education Employees
  2. Respect and Inclusion Series: The Power of Respectful Language
  3. Respect and Inclusion Series: Transition to Respect
  4. Respect and Inclusion Series: Uncovering Implicit Bias
To date, 70% of staff have completed the four modules. We will continue to send reminders to remaining staff until they have completed the modules.

Currently, THCS is developing plans for training opportunities to include experiential sessions with trained facilitators. We hope to offer the first opportunity to student-facing staff members this fall.

Student Training Opportunities – Diversity & Inclusion

Student Affairs and Diversity & Inclusion partnered to create a multiple-session, undergraduate student leader training series. Aspiring student leaders were required to participate in the Student Multicultural Leadership Conference in January and will remain on campus after finals in May to participate in training designed to address inter/intrapersonal awareness, cultural humility, and inclusive excellence. The third (and traditional) training opportunity occurs in August, annually. Kudos to all the RAs, OLs, and organization leaders who have or will participate! Opportunities for graduate students are being developed.

The Like Minds Coalition is currently sponsoring a series of Campus Conversations on Race. This five-week series brings students together to discuss issues of race and related matters. It is peer co-facilitated by those who are trained to facilitate conversations using a case study model.

Bias Response Protocol

We are in the pilot implementation phase of the Bias Response Protocol. About a dozen reports have been received through the online bias report form or the EthicsPoint report form. The issues raised in the reports include matters of racial/ethnic, gender identity, and ability bias. Our Community Advocates and Bias Response Team have met regularly to ensure that all reports and involved persons are being given the attention they deserve.

Campus Activism

On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, Simmons students walked out of class and/or engaged in a sit-in and speak-out in Common Grounds attended by many members of the community. We were heartened by this activism and solidarity. The demonstration raised awareness about the lives and experiences of trans and gender non-conforming students and provided an important reminder for us all to honor the humanity, dignity, and individuality of each member of our Simmons community.

What’s next?

Many of us have become conversant in matters of diversity and inclusion. And, while we have accomplished a great deal this year, we have so much more to do. Our students and other community members are constantly pushing us to move even faster and to be even more diverse and more inclusive in all we do.College-Wide Diversity & Inclusion Goals – Overview

We are pleased to say we are making commendable strides on our 2016-2017 goals. We developed our philosophy of diversity and inclusion (unanimously endorsed by our Board of Trustees); we provided D&I training for the Simmons leadership team and for many full-time faculty, staff, and students; we implemented a Bias Response Protocol to enable anyone who has experienced a bias incident to report it and to receive support, resources, and guidance, as appropriate; our Diversity & Inclusion Action Council, comprised of faculty, staff, and student members, meets twice a month to provide feedback on all initiatives before implementation; many faculty are working to substantially enrich curricula with more diverse content; and we've established diversity and inclusion as a prominent goal of our strategic plan, Strategy 2022.